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Interim Ferry Service in Tonga

( An interim ferry service in Tonga, secured by the Governments of New Zealand, Australia, and Tonga, will commence next month once the charter vessel, the Ajang Subuh, has arrived from Malaysia, Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today.

“Following the Princess Ashika tragedy, New Zealand and Australia undertook to help the Tongan Government find and fund an interim ferry service,” Mr McCully said.

“Sea travel between islands is a vital lifeline in Tonga, and is the primary method for transporting supplies and produce. Many Tongan families rely on ferry services for their livelihoods and to maintain contact with friends and family.

“Finding a vessel that can safely operate in Tonga’s challenging marine environment has been our priority. The Ajang Subuh meets the requirements set down by the Tongan Government, and complies with rigorous international maritime safety standards.

“The Ajang Subuh has undergone an independent survey in Malaysia by internationally-recognised surveyors London Off-shore Consultants, which found it seaworthy and fit for purpose.

“New Zealand and Australia will jointly fund the 12-month ferry charter, each providing $2.5 million. The Government of Tonga will cover local costs such as fuel and vessel maintenance.

“Tonga will also be responsible for on-shore management arrangements, with on-going support from a New Zealand-funded project manager and maritime safety advisory support.

“New Zealand and Australian support will help ensure the Tongan people have a regular, safe and reliable maritime transport option,” Mr McCully said.

For more details, a photo of the vessel and technical specifications of the Ajang Subuh click here.

To read the statement made by the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs click here.

Media Release 26 March 2010 from NZ Aid.



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